Dining Out

Dildeep & Zorawar Kalra to Launch Seafood Restaurant with India’s First Champagne & Caviar Bar in Mumbai Today

Posted: June 22, 2018 at 10:12 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

JUNE 22 will mark the birth of the newest child in the Kalra family of restaurants, which is fast expanding into uncharted territories. Opening at the Palladium Mall in Mumbai tomorrow, Rivers to Oceans (R2O) will not only mark the formal entry of Dildeep Kalra, Zorawar Kalra‘s better half and operations chief, into the world of hospitality entrepreneurship, but also the opening of yet another concept restaurant, close on the heels of Kode and Bo Tai, this time devoted to fish and seafood.

Like all concepts rolled out by Kalra’s Massive Restaurants, R2O has its share of dramatic elements. It has state-of-the-art freezers that can chill up to a ton of fish and seafood at minus-80 degrees C. It also has the country’s first champagne-and-caviar bar, which promises to be a grand lifestyle statement at a time when other restaurateurs are scaling down to cafe formats. The bar will have every single champagne available in the country and they will be served by the glass because of a preservation system that is still a novelty in India.

Dildeep and Zorawar Kalra have opened their most ambitious restaurant yet, R2O, dedicated to the pleasures of fish and seafood, champagne and caviar, at Palladium Mall, Mumbai.

The caviar selection will include beluga from Iran and the restaurant’s raw tasting menu — the first of its kind in the country — will have Norwegian salmon, Japanese hamachi (amberjack), Australian southern blue fin tuna, halibut from Boston, black cod from the Gulf of Alaska, soft shell crabs from Indonesia and mussels from New Zealand as well as tiger prawns, lobsters, mud crabs, squid and clams from the Maharashtra coastline, trout from Kullu, and scampi from Andhra Pradesh. The menu, in a city that already has Trishna, Mahesh and Gajali lording over the space, will be driven by upscale world cuisine.

R2O is one of those rare restaurants (certainly as rare as the blue moon in Mumbai!) with 50 per cent of its real estate devoted to the kitchen. “A lot of love and care has gone into it,” he said. R2O’s grandeur will set it apart and you can trust the Kalras to see it through. If the restaurant succeeds, and you can trust the Kalras to pull it off, its next stop will be London. “We have decided as a company,” Dildeep pointed out, “that much of our future expansion will take place in international markets.” With state governments and municipal authorities behaving the way they do, that may be the wise way out.


EVER SINCE Dilip Kumar, joined by Saira Bano and Waheeda Rahman, inaugurated Copper  Chimney in Worli, Mumbai, in 1972, K Hospitality has not stopped growing. It is one of the country’s biggest hospitality chains, its footprint extending from airports to railway stations to banqueting, mall food and beverage concessions, and lifestyle brands such as The Irish House. Delhi, though, has not been a part of this success story, especially after the Copper Chimney here shut down in 2007, so it was with great expectations that I stepped into the Bombay Brasserie outlet at H-Block in the Outer Circle of Connaught Place.

And I came out of it in a state of joy, for yet another bright spot has been added to Delhi. The restaurant is divided into two equal parts — the bar is to the left, where you can order either the signature Pauwa Cocktails or the house specialities, such as Sailor’s Spiced (dark rum, ginger ale and Tabasco) and Molly Lolly (margarita served with an orange candy), and ‘the eatery’, as they call it, is to the right.

The food menu is a labour of love. Each dish is celebrated for a unique ingredient — from Sangli’s tilkut masala and Pune’s thecha chutney made with green chillies and coconut to Mapusa’s coconut vinegar and Nagaland’s bhoot jholakia — and there’s a story driving it. The Ismaili kofta biryani, for instance, is an Indian version of the Scotch egg served on a bed of sour cherry kheema rice. The thok noodle salad, a popular street food in Chennai, is a gift of the Burmese refugees settled in the southern metropolis.

Amritsari aam papad shows up in a paneer dish; Tibetan shapale, or fried empanada-style chicken dumplings, are spiked with red peppercorns from Shillong; the Tamil Street Chicken is a delicious melange of fried chicken and roomali roti crisps with a fried egg sitting on top; and the super-long Kashmiri seekh kebab can easily shared by a table of four.

No meal at Bombay Brasserie is complete without ‘ice-cream sandwiches’, which come packed between biscuits (Bourbon and Jim Jams), obviously inspired by a technique popularised by K. Rustom and Co., an Iranian ice-cream parlour on Marine Drive, since 1953. Or you can settle for a Ras-e-Aam, spongy rasgulla drizzled with aam ras nestled on a bed of rich rabdi. The dishes may not be ‘authentic’ in the nitpicking sense of the word, but they’ll definitely titillate your taste buds. Go to Bombay Brasserie, soak up the vibe, knock back a couple of drinks and dig the food. You can’t spend a sweltering day better than that.


AFTER A BRIEF period of drift post Sujan Sarkar‘s departure for greater glory in San Francisco and New York, Ek Bar is back with a new look (the kitschy elephant has made way for sober colours), a vigorous shakeup of the cocktail menu by Nitin Tewari, and a new lineup of small plates created by Manu Chandra, the Bangalore-based ace in AD Singh‘s deck of cards.

To glam-up this transformation (and who can be a better master of this art than Singh?), Ek Bar has tied up for a two-day pop-up by Singapore’s celebrated watering hole, 28 Hong Kong Street (ranked 25th in the World’s 50 Best Bars), represented by its co-bar captain, the Slovak-born Lukas Kaufmann and his Malaccan colleague, the sous chef Richie Tam, who’ll be dishing up the bar’s signature snack, Mac ‘n’ Cheese Balls.

“Year on year,” says the World’s 50 Best Bars website, “28 Hong Kong Street continues to impress with its mix of no-nonsense classics and subtle twists, which is why it has become known as one of the cornerstones of the burgeoning Singapore bar scene.” The website recommends the Old Fashioned, which comes with an ice slab hand-stamped with the bar’s logo, but Kaufmann has quite a lot line-up in place.

His offerings include Dillmatic — Tanqueray Gin, Dolin Dry (a wine-based dry vermouth), snap pea, lemon, simple syrup and dill; 93 ‘Til Infinity — Encanto Pisco Grand and Noble (a Peruvian pisco), lemon juice, pineapple cordial and sparkling wine; Czech The Method — coffee, Jameson Original, Shepherd Neame Double Stout, becherovka (herbal bitters), and burnt malt syrup; The Real Slim Shandy — Ketel One Vodka, Amaro Nonino (a grappa), Marie Bizard Peche Du Verger (peach-based liqueur), lime juice, ginger honey and Hoegaarden beer; and Fernet About Dre — Fernet Branca (a bitter Italian amaro), Bacardi Black Rum, Tempus Fugit Crème de Cacao, simple syrup and orange bitters.

Check them out tonight. Kaufmann and Tam are flying back on Saturday.


THAT time is not far away when you can order bespoke Godiva chocolates to accompany your daughter’s wedding cards. The world’s best-known chocolate brand, which operates out of 450 stores in 80 countries, is finally arriving in India after convincing itself that the country has a big-enough market for its premium products.

Godiva’s move seems to have been influenced by the success of the Japanese chocolate brand, Royce, and the Lebanese Patchi. The entry of Fabelle from ITC Foods into the luxury chocolate market has also convinced global players to look at India as a potential investment destination. India’s per capita chocolate consumption is a fraction of a kilo, compared with 10 kilos and five respectively in the case of Switzerland and the United States.

Founded in 1923 in Belgium, Godiva is owned by the Turkish consumer goods conglomerate, Yildiz Holding. Its plan is to roll out its signature chocolate cafes in premier malls in leading cities, and simultaneously make forays into the wedding and corporate gifting segments. Get ready for a chocolate shower!